Baboquivari, which is located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Sells, has canceled its fall sports — football, volleyball and cross country — because of concerns involving the COVID-19 pandemic.
After announcing the decision to the Baboquivari Unified School District board on Tuesday, school athletic director Bright Benson informed the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Wednesday.
“(COVID-19 is) absolutely the reason (for the cancellation),” Baboquivari football coach Pete Delgado said. “High level of diabetes plus many of our kids are raised by their grandparents creates fear.”
Delgado added that the virus has not hit the Tohono O’odham Reservation as hard as Navajo reservations in the state.
“The Tohono O’odham Nation is still under curfew and stay at home orders,” he said. “Government offices are closed to the public and all athletic facilities are closed.”
Baboquivari is a Class 1A school that had an enrollment of 163 last school year. The Warriors play eight-man football.
Delgado also coaches Baboquivari’s baseball team. He has coached at the school the last four years. He has worked on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in some capacity since 1993.
He is among 18 local football coaches who put their name on a letter addressed to the AIA to move football to the spring because of the uncertainty of COVID-19 with the season slated to start Sept. 10 and 11.
Delgado is hopeful a football season can be salvaged between January and March and that baseball will be played April through June to allow for two-sport athletes to compete in both.
He and his athletes are facing a fall without sports after having the spring sports cut short because of the pandemic.
“I miss coaching the boys,” Delgado said. “We had a legit shot at a state championship in baseball last year. Three senior leaders never got to finish out their careers.
“I worry about the kids and the risk of dropping out altogether. Sports for many of our kids is what keeps them in school and their grades up.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.